June 25, 2024
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Not your Mama’s Hadassah! Hadassah Installs Co-Presidents: Looks to the Future

Fair Lawn—Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization, is no longer simply a fundraising platform for Israel’s premier medical facilities. In 2013, the work of chapters is different: in addition to its foundational fundraising activities, Hadassah chapters work to enable women’s education and improve the health and well being of women and girls in the United States and Israel.

JLBC spoke with Leslie Felner shortly her May 19th installation as Co-President of the Fair Lawn Hadassah Chapter, one of the largest on the East Coast. She shares the office with Esther Rubinstein. “The group has changed significantly,” noted Felner. “In addition to regular monthly meetings, we will be having study groups and book clubs.” Of the 30 chapters in New Jersey, Fair Lawn is one of the most active and, with over 500 members, one of the largest. “Even people in Florida maintain their membership!”

Raising funds remains an integral part of the work of Hadassah in America. Money raised supports projects at the Hadassah Hospitals in Ein Keren and Mt. Scopus, in Jerusalem. In the United States, Hadassah sponsors outreach programs promoting Jewish women’s education and acts as an advocate for women’s health issues.

Since Marcie Natan became national president of Hadassah in 2012, the organization has gained 30,000 new “Life Members.”

Says Felner, “Women are being very choosey about the kinds of charitable work they do. We must make choices: Hadassah is what women can do for Israel and for themselves—being involved in a lifelong learning program.” She acknowledged that the downturn in the economy has caused donors to more carefully consider where their charity dollars are best placed. “It’s a problem faced by many charities. The economy has had wide reverberation and impacted Hadassah as well.”

In the Felner household, being part of Hadassah is generational. Leslie Felner believes that “conveying our values to the next generation is essential. My three daughters are all life members. Already, they participate—they are my biggest cheerleaders. When they are ready to begin giving charitable service, Hadassah will have a place for them. After all,” she laughs, “they have firsthand experience!” Felner’s daughter, Talia, a sophomore at the Maayanot School in Teaneck, gave the invocation at the installation of her mother and Mrs. Rubinstein.

Young Judea, the youth program developed under the umbrella of Hadassah, recently became an independent entity. Felner noted that her children, including her Hadassah “Life Member” daughters, had attended Young Judea camps.

Leslie Felner told JLBC the special contributions of Wolina Shapiro will be recognized with the presentation of the 2013 Fair Lawn Hadassah “Woman of Valor” award on June 23. Shapiro, who has worked tirelessly to build the Fair Lawn chapter, has held every local and regional office of the Northern New Jersey Hadassah district. The annual dinner will be held at Fairlawn Jewish Center in the fall of 2013.

Prior to the High Holiday Season, the Fair Lawn chapter produces a Jewish calendar that gives local venders and merchants an opportunity to promote their businesses and support the work of Hadassah. Leslie Felner invites all who would like information about advertising in the calendar or to make reservations for the “Woman of Valor” event to contact Fair Lawn Hadassah at 201- 873-2476.

By Maxine Dovere

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